les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cats, eh?

I hope you're sitting down.

We're contemplating getting a cat.

Yes, I know I'm allergic to cats, and I know it's a risk, but in more recent years I've had much less strong reactions and maybe, just maybe, given the fact that our house has very few carpets and is more or less open-plan, maybe I'd be OK.

The rationale?

Well with the sad demise of the guinea-pigs the girls feel the need of someone to love and cosset.

(Love ME, girls! Cosset ME!)

Now a dog would be great, but the problem with dogs is that when we go to the UK we'd need to find someone willing to look after the dog for several weeks. Hmmm. Or pay kennel fees. Hmmm.

Pat suggested a hamster that would live in Catrin's room, but we tried that kind of thing before and the kids were woken up by the nocturnal antics of their little pets, who then had to live in the bathroom, the lounge, etc...

A cat, with the natural independence and aloofness of their race, could happily wander off roaming and also make friends with the neighbours, who would then be delighted to feed it and keep an eye on it during our absence.

That's the theory, anyway.

Which leads me to one snag. We are currently visited by two local cats.

Grey cat lives across the road and comes in looking for pieces of chicken defrosting in the kitchen. She found one once, and the memory is sweet. She sneaks in and seems genuinely alarmed if you show any sign of having noticed her.

Ginger cat is big and aloof and doesn't need to try to steal food. She seldom comes into the house, but she has adopted the garden where she sits on tables and seats and surveys her annexed domains.

Grey cat and ginger cat do not get on.

Which is why yesterday I was alerted to a brewing confrontation by their aggressive yowling from our garden. I went out to look and saw grey cat shooting down the driveway hotly pursued by ginger cat.

"You NAUGHTY cats, stop at once!" I yelled.

They took as much notice of me as I once took of General Pinochet.

I pursued ginger cat who pursued grey cat. They stopped and fought in grey cat's driveway across the road.

"Stop at once, you NAUGHTY cats!" I yelled, clapping my hands.

This time they did stop and stared at each other. Grey cat's ear seemed bitten. I advanced and clapped again. Ginger cat went off down the road. Grey cat shot through the gateway. Peace was restored.

Hmm. Adding another cat into this?

Moments of geekery - 2

Inbox, from Gmail.

I heard about it yesterday and thought I'd like to give it a try. Basically it's a small programme you use to view your gmail that groups it together into categories, like adverts, social media, finance, purchases, etc. You can define, rename and change your groups, or "bundles" and it enables you to prioritise according to the type of email.

You can also write yourself little reminders and prioritise emails within their bundle.

But for the moment you have to wait till Google invites you to try it. You can ask them for an invitation, but that's it.

I asked. And thought no more about it.

This morning my invitation came. And it's AMAZING!

Moments of geekery - 1


I am like SO EXCITED, it's AMAZING!

No, but really, I am literally excited!

You know that we meet in a restaurant on Sundays, and we don't have a piano or anything?
We don't even have a guitarist just now, so we sing to the MP3 files from Christian Hymns 2.
I have loaded them all onto my little iPad and I play them through a bluetooth speaker.
That's great, and it works just great, blasting out from the corner like an invisible pianist.

But sometimes the recording is just a little high - like the second half of "Before the throne.
And sometimes it goes a little fast, like for Spirit of the Living God...

Steve MacLean, who I got the idea from, plays the files through Audacity on his laptop and you can adjust the speed, the pitch and a whole bunch of other stuff. But I don't want to carry even more stuff to the restaurant and I don't want to muck around with audacity during the service, or spend time learning it.

Well, someone told me about this app for the iPad. It's called AudioStretch, it will play any music file from your iPad, and it permits you to speed up and slow down with one set of buttons, and to adjust the pitch up and down in semitone steps with the other.

Just that.

I tried the free version and it worked just great. We probably could have got by with that, but the paid version allows bigger transpositions and rewards the author for their work, and costs 5€!

How cool is that!

And if I want I can listen to any music in the key of my choice!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Encouragement at the Maison de la Bible

I was a little early arriving at my stop on Wednesday so I thought I'd wander about and see what photos I could take of the city centre. In the end I just enjoyed looking at the law courts and their huge water feature, and the shops across the way. I counted four (4) Pibal bicycles (Pibaux?) in the bike rack outside the law courts and generally had a good time.

Then I arrived at the shop on the stroke of 10.

I greeted our friendly local beggar and his friend, who come at opening time for their morning coffee, popped into the back to the loo, switched on the coffee machine - ah - there's a customer - and I haven't even turned the lights on or started up the till. He bought 100€ worth of Bibles, then the morning became very calm. Still. Not bad for the first 2 minutes.

Two Mormon lads came in. Short trousers. Snotty noses. Bruised knees. Badges that said "Elder Bonnie" and "Elder Clyde".

They said, "Nous cherchons des Bibles".

I said, "What kinda Bibles you guys looking for?"

So we talked about Bibles, French, Utah and Oregon, Montpellier, where they're working, visas etc. They tried to talk to me about the Book of Mormon. I tried to tell them it's a load of old tosh, without using the words load, old or tosh, of course. I have forgotten their real names but why not pray for the Mormon lads. God knows who they are.

There's a new missionary in town, a splendid chap who has spent a year in Paris learning to speak French properly before coming to Bordeaux to learn how to speak French ... improperly.

Anyway do pray for him. He needs encouragement! And proper encouragement, not like the following :

1) conversation on Sunday evening. "Oh yes, I helped another person with their French who came to work with students. And when they arrived their French was worse than yours!" in that, 'you'll never believe this but it's true all the same' tone of voice.

2) in the bookshop. New chap, in French, "Yes, I'll be working with students on the campus." French interlocutor, "Oh, OK, but English-speaking ones, of course!"

Keep going, lad, it's just people's way of showing they love you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What is it with editors these days?

Perhaps I have misunderstood how things work in publishing?

I mean, I thought an author would write a book, perhaps by hand with a pen, perhaps on a computer.
If on a computer, then he would run a spell check, or the computer would auto-corrupt his text - the best means yet invented of encouraging you to reread your text before sending it off.

Then I thought there followed a process of negotiation where an editor or editors would attempt to weed out unfortunate expressions, sheer, gross errors of fact, words that have no existence and deserve no existence, speling erers, would check references and citations.

Then the book, purged of all that the editors could succeed in purging, would go to print...

Then how come in the books I so happily and gladly review there are just plumb, stupid mistakes?

For example, please tell me, what is a forebearer? The latest book refers to our forebearers.

I thought it might be a joke. Sometimes in discussion I refer to the convictions shared by all our four bears, or at least by three of them.

I thought that I might have it wrong, so I looked up the word. Or tried to. Forebearers.

A worldwide strike of editors? A global dictionary shortage? Some bizarre declaration of genteel anarchy against the conventions of the English language?

Who knows!

But I warn our hindbearers, if it is like this in the bud, then wat wil thu ful frute bee lyke?

Monday, October 20, 2014

A busy weekend

So the weekend began with me being in Maison de la Bible from 10 till 5 on Saturday, then closing up rapidly and speeding off to speak to the Chinese group.

It was great to be with them, perhaps about 10 people, one family with two small children, two pregnant ladies, the group is changing!

I spoke from Colossians 1 about how the real good news of salvation in Jesus Christ and it was a good time.

My journey back to Pessac was not wonderful, though. I got up from my tram seat and realised that the seat I had bene sitting in was damp, and had left some of its dampness on me. Lovely! Then bus 4 had a rowdy gang of drunk students. Binge drinking is catching on here. They were not aggressive or threatening, but they needed space to fool about.

Then Sunday evening at DAN seemed to go nicely, with some of our folk back from travels, including Frances, who is back from Nigeria for a PhD. It was great to see her.

The message was from Colossians 1:15-20 and it's the most wonderful passage to preach.

Afterwards we went for a picnic on the quays in the autumn heat. This may have been a mistake as only six of us went down to the quays. Maybe eating at Dan is a better option.

Later, at home I thought, "What's wrong with me? I have a head-ache. Ah yes, I'm probably tired."

Anyway, the quays were charming and here's some photos :

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nasal perfusions of sea-water

Well I have started.
Last night and this morning so far.
It is not difficult or even markedly unpleasant.
Despite my aerosol being labelled "Dynamique" the water does not reach very far up my nostrils, though it does get to areas that sting a little.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MOT test

This morning I had my six-monthly checkup with my doctor.

There were positive things and negative things to report :


Blood-test - as usual my bloods are impeccable. She reckons I have a long life ahead of me if I can only manage to avoid fast-moving vehicles.

Blood-pressure - after an initial period of uncertainty because she couldn't hear my pulse because we were talking too much, she said 13/8, that's fine.

Weight - she weighed me and pronounced herself content

Breathing - she confirmed that I am breathing and give every sign of continuing so to do for the immediate future.

Flu-jab - she approved of me having my flu-jab


She told me to resume eating breakfast. I protested that it was just carbohydrates, but she says carbohydrates are what you need in the morning.
On mange le matin comme un roi, a midi comme un baron et she said
Ouais, ouais, ouais I interjected, discouraged that my master plan for getting smaller did not have medical approval.
I told her that all the skinny people I know skip breakfast, but she was unmoved.

Nasal-perfusions of sea-water
She told me to squirt sea-water up my nose night and morning after or before brushing my teeth to avoid catching colds.
Quite honestly I fail to see how this ill-conceived practice could possibly have anything to do with the prevention of viral infections of the upper respiratory tract,
but in a moment of weakness I told her I would do it. I was laughing nervously, but I don't think that releases me from my word.

She does want me to do a stress-test at the hospital with a friendly cardiologist with whom she is in cohoots, 
but she says it's not at all urgent and she tends to do it with people in their mid-fifties.

So there we are. I have once more passed my MOT. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hermione leaves Bordeaux

Harriette was there to film it.

Book review - Songs for a Suffering King (The Grand Christ Hymn of Psalms 1 - 8), by J V Fesko

This is a book with many strengths. Fesko believes that the Bible is God's word, given by the Holy Spirit through the agency of many human authors. He believes that the Bible is authoritative and relevant for the life of the Church and of the Christian today. And he writes from these convictions, giving his book a direct and helpful character.

Another great strength is Fesko's evident conviction that, as Jesus taught, the psalms all speak of Christ. He looks for Christ in each psalm, and aims to communicate the grace of Christ to his readers. How good that is! What is the point of opening up the Bible if you don't direct people to Christ?

The book has eight chapters, one for each psalm, entitled:

Song of the Righteous Man
Song of the Lord's Messiah
Song of Deliverance
Song of Hope
Song of Protection
Song of Forgiveness
Song of Vindication
Song of Majesty

Incidentally, seeing Christ in Psalm 8 reminds us of the delicacy of the task of Bible translation - "What is man, the son of man" - if we translate that as "What is mankind, human beings" we put a linguistic tank trap on the road that takes us to Christ and to Hebrews 2. It's a pity, and bravo to the Segond 21 which has kept "le fils de l'homme".

Weak points? Yes, a couple.

Firstly sometimes Fesko comes across as being angry, "many people do this", "some people say that". I'm not sure it was always appropriate or persuasive.

Then there are occasional lapses, of good sense or of good style.

Good sense, well he writes, "In the words of Scripture, made famous by Handel's Messiah: "The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" (Revelation 11:15)"

Does he really think this text lurked in obscurity for 1700 years until Jenner chose it and Handel set it and suddenly it took its rightful place? Of course he doesn't! And I thought of the millions of Christians all over the world who will never hear Handel's Messiah, but who have heard or read this text and rejoiced. This sort of silly lapse, well we all make them, but before books are printed editors have to find them and get rid of them.

Good style? Well authorise me, genteel lecteur, to propose the consideration that less complicated words should be selected in preference to more obscure. For example, don't say "explicate" when "explain" is better.

But these are minor, nit-picking faults, and perhaps more to be blamed on the editors than on the author.

How many books do you have that show you Jesus Christ in the Psalms? Well here's one. Buy it and read it.

I was given a copy of the book in electronic format free of charge in return for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

We took an after-church stroll to say goodbye to the Hermione


Last night as we waited to begin the service at DAN we heard noises of conflict in the street. Some of us looked out of the doorway to see what was happening - a group of youths getting physical - and as the situation worsened I phoned the police.

A reminder that the beautiful facade and peaceful streets of the city of Bordeaux hides the usual city reality of human misery and conflict.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Colossians 1:9-14

Business and having time for people

Pastoral ministry, eh! It's a rich and heady blend of deadlines and people who should be given time.

I was talking about this the other day with my friend Nicodème. He was in town visiting his gorgeous little penthouse apartment in central Bordeaux and he invited us round for lunch. He doesn't know Bordeaux that well so after lunch Pat scurried back to the Maison de la Bible and I took him on a tour of my standard meet-up places (first DAN, where the church meets, then to Books and Coffee, Verde Néro and to Les Mots Bleus, the three cafés where I sometimes meet up with people, then to Maison de la Bible.

I talked about how it goes through me when people say "I know how busy you are," before asking for help, a visit, whatever.

Coincidentally Tim Challies, Reformed Blogger Extraordinaire, just discussed the whole issue of being frantic, being lazy, and whatever comes in between! Read his reflections here.

Then yesterday I had a practical workshop on how to make space for people and keep to a schedule. Firstly a lunch date with friend, Didier. 11:30 at the cathedral. Then a church council meeting at 4. Didier is a talker, so I thought we'd be cutting it fine, but hey.

While waiting for lunch to appear my phone rang, a number I didn't know, but a personal mobile number. It was Andy, en route from Martinique to Lyon and in Bordeaux till Saturday. Could we meet up for lunch. Ah no, I was already with someone for lunch. But we could meet up for coffee perhaps at 3?

So after our lunch and our discussion I hauled poor Didier through the streets to his tram stop, then went off to meet up with Andy - his wife Kitty was also there. We talked about the group in Martinique, Andy's plan to train theologically, the group in Bordeaux, our families, the past, the future.

It was wonderful to see Andy and Kitty. I had to take a photo of them and have a big long hug to remember their presence.

Then at 3:30 I had to charge off and get the tram to the church council.

OK. Most days are not like that, but yesterday was.

I always try to remember the advice given to us by Derek Swann when talking about conducting funerals! He said that whatever happens, even if you turn up late, when you arrive make sure you have all the time in the world. Be aware that at the crematorium you may only have 20 minutes, but those 20 minutes must be 20 unhurried minutes, focused on the moment, not on the next task in 20 minutes' time.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

After a morning in the bookshop

where we seemed to have some rather dotty clientele today I walked with James down to the quayside to see l'Hermione (lair-mee-onn)

There is only coffee

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Visit to UK churches April 2015

Alan is currently planning a visit to the UK in early April 2015, probably from around 1st April to around 17th / 21st April.

Certain dates are inked in :

1st April, Borras Park, Wrexham
13 - 16 April, Leicester Conference

If your church may appreciate hearing about the work in Bordeaux, especially if you are in South Wales, please get in touch !

Monday, October 06, 2014

Bordeaux Church plant and social media

It started with a little booklet circulated on how to make your sermon stay in the memories of your folk through the week by popping key paragraphs on blogs or on social media.
Then George of 100-fold, our wonderful geeky colleagues in the USA, remarked that if I could work out how to schedule Facebook posts this might be useful in a student context.
Then I thought that linking Twitter to Facebook gives two cracks at the whip.
The trail led me back to Hootsuite, a little programme I tried years ago for the Android phone, which takes all your social media feeds, combines them into columns like in a spreadsheet, and presents them to you in one screen. The programme didn't stay on my phone long. I hate spreadsheets anyway. Too much information crammed together. No. But on the PC screen it's OK. AND it allows you to schedule twitter posts. And then Facebook will happily allow Twitter posts to appear on a Facebook page.
So once a week I select short quotes as memory-joggers and pop them into Hootsuite, scheduled to hit the ether at 7am each day.
Doubtless our use of social media and the web will evolve further. Can I make the Facebook page feed into the website? That's the next challenge.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Well THOSE two days have been very different!

Yesterday was the RéseauFEF (Fédération Evangélique de France) pastorale in Toulouse. I belong to RéseauFEF by virtue of our mission, UFM/MPEF, but it took about 8 years and questions from the hierarchy (not that we have a hierarchy, but those who raised questions are those who would be in the hierarchy if we had one) before I ever went to a RéseauFEF event.

There's perhaps seven of us in RéseauFEF in the Bordeaux area but they include some of my most splendid friends and colleagues, so the prospect of spending five hours bouncing down the motorway in a minibus accompanied by these worthies was compelling.

On the way Sebti navigated to the church where the pastorale was to be held and graciously showed us all Toulouse' most interesting sights on the way. Either that city is much bigger than I thought, or perhaps we arrived at the church by spiralling in on it through the city in ever-decreasing circles. Anyway we got there just over 1/2 an hour late and missed the official time of coffee and snacks, but there was still some left so as our speaker began his discourse we helped ourselves to delicious goodies.

The theme of the day was "Christian Schools" and it was generally very well presented. There were one or two little areas that I would have liked refined, but hey. Two excellent folk came in afterwards, the headmistress of Toulouse' christian primary school and the chairman of the governors.

We shared matter for prayer and I learnt that our closest friends in Toulouse, Vincent and Sam, are having problems with the change of use order on a building they bought. Between buying and modifying the building the zone in which it is situated has been reclassified causing complicated issues and threatening the use of the building. Aïe !

My good friend and excellent colleague, Marc from Villenave and I shared in the bus on the way and generally it was a very helpful and refreshing day, in the context of the hard plod and frequent knocks that is mission in France today.

Today reserved a different kind of treat. Moving furniture.

Gwilym is in England, looking for good books on Genesis (I don't have ones he needs) and Catrin's room is the least nice room in the house for reasons I won't go into, so we are moving her into Gwilym's room, which involved moving furniture round in my study (how ever did I get all those books on that shelf before?), switching tables round, and heaving bunk beds and wardrobes round the room, preferably without bending your back.

At one point I realised that I was trapped between the bunk bed and the wall and didn't have enough room to bend my knees to put the bunk bed down. It was a nasty moment and I had to think my way out of it. 

Ha! both neurones still firing, as said the great Houdini!

Now it's three o'clock and we're both absolutely wrecked.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Oh that's such an opportunity!

I said to Mrs Davey, "I know some folks who run an English club for kids from their neighbourhood, and I'm seeing the chap tomorrow."

Then who should walk into the bookshop, but the very lady who runs that club.

OK. But ships and Tarshish remind us that we ought still to think and pray it through properly!

Ca ne vous dit pas de proposer des cours d'anglais aux enfants?

"You don't fancy giving English classes to children?" said the veiled lady at the bus stop near our house.

When we asked what she meant, she said "Cours d'anglais - English lessons"

"We got that bit", I said, "Are you saying that you would like us to give English lessons to your children?"

"Yes", she said, "and to me, too."

Well it was the most unusual conversation opening so far this week.
I told her we would think about it and gave her my phone number.
We're thinking about it.

Book review - Can I really trust the Bible, by Barry Cooper, published by The Good Book Company

Can I really trust the Bible is part of the Questions Christians Ask series of little books published by the Good Book Company. When I say little books, I mean that it has just 72 pages. This is not a major volume on the Inspiration and Authority of the Scriptures, but a little handbook for reading on the train, the bus or the tube.

But truth and helpfulness is not measured by the pound, and though the book is short it is very helpful. Using perhaps the slightly frivolous illustration of Winnie the Pooh examining a jar of honey to check if it the real thing, the book si divided into three parts :

1. Does the Bible claim to be God's word? (Does it say honey on the jar?)

Here he begins with a brief look at Psalm 19 and at 2 Timothy 3:15, before very helpfully considering Jesus' attitude to the Bible. "he is completely captivated by God's word. It is written, it is written, he says".

The book has small sections of information to describe the contents of the Bible, and also considers the object that to claim Biblical authority is a circular  argument by noting that finally all arguments that appeal to authority are circular, whether it is to reason, to religion, to anything.

2. Does the Bible seem the be God's word?

The Bible's amazing internal consistency is considered, along with fulfilled prophecy and the question of who decided on the Bible's content, the canon. This section ends with a helpful discussion of translations and transmission.

3. Does the Bible prove to be God's word?

This was my favourite section, especially for the illustration of the 7-year-old lad at Banstead Baths. It then ends with the story of Barry Cooper's conversion to Christianity, which involved a student worker who every week met to discuss a passage of the Bible with a somewhat bemused student. After some months of coffee and bible-focused chat Cooper had experienced the power of the Bible to transform his life.

It's not an academic book, though it covers most of the bases. It's rather a very helpful little book for those who are questioning, floundering, wondering or who simply want to help others think through their relationship with the Bible.

Buy a copy. In fact buy two. One to read then lend out and the other to give away.

I received this book free from the publisher in electronic format through the Cross Focused Reviews book review programme. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Oh yes - and it's a very nice shade of yellow :